Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fans blame Romanian supporters for Windsor Park firework blast that injured photographer at Euro 2016 qualifier

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland fans have insisted the firework thrown at Windsor Park during Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania did not come from their end of the stadium and have used video evidence to prove it.

They also have the backing of the figurehead of football in Northern Ireland, Irish President Jim Shaw who believes the firework, which hit Presseye photographer Darren Kidd, came from the Romanian section.

It is understood Uefa have opened disciplinary proceedings into the incident, with the IFA and Romania both charged by European football's governing body.

Shaw, though, is confident that the Irish FA will not be fined, and that if anyone will be punished it will be the Romanian Football Federation.

Bearing that out, earlier this month the Polish FA were fined £18,000 after their fans set off fireworks in Dublin in a Euro qualifier against the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Kidd was sitting in front of the East Stand, filled with 3000 Northern Ireland fans, when the firework struck him.

He suffered burns and on his neck and arm.

There was much anger amongst home supporters on social media when they were initially blamed for the incident.

Video footage, suggesting the firework was thrown from the area occupied by Romanian fans, was soon circulating on social media, to protect the innocence of Northern Ireland supporters.

Shaw confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph that, from his information, any charge from Uefa will be faced by the Romania Football Federation and not the IFA.

"I haven’t seen the report as yet, I only know what I have been told and as far as I am aware the charge isn’t against us - it’s against Romania," said Shaw.

"I can only take it that they have been identified as the ones who threw the firework."

Shaw, a former member of the Uefa Disciplinary Committee, is well versed in how cases of this type work.

He added: ""These things are dealt with by the Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body, which meets every month.

"They decide on the punishments in accordance with the disciplinary regulations - there are never any hearings. Certainly in my time on the committee there were never any hearings.

"There is a route of appeal if the charge is against us and we feel we have grounds for an appeal."

Gary McAllister, spokesperson for the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs, took a measured approach, insisting that it was important for the authorities to find out who was responsible.

He added that fireworks are not in the culture of Northern Ireland football fans.

"Having viewed a video it appears that the firework or object came from the Romanian end. Obviously we haven’t had a detailed conversation with the IFA or PSNI so we are awaiting their response but looking at the video it does appear it came from the Romanian section.

"It is important from our point of view if it was a Northern Ireland fan, and it was proven to be a Northern Ireland fan, we would have no difficulty in criticising that behaviour as we have done in the past when people have misbehaved. It is very important that people establish where responsibility for the incident lies.

"I know in some countries fireworks are part of the football culture but it hasn’t been in Northern Ireland football.

"I can only remember seeing a flare being let off on two occasions.

"It is important that we look where responsibility for the incident lies and know that all right thinking Northern Ireland fans would not like to see anyone misbehave in matches and certainly would not want to see anyone hurt in the way that Darren Kidd was, but we all feel strongly that we don’t want to be wrongly blamed either because Northern Ireland fans have worked hard to gain a good record and good reputation."

Further reading

UEFA opens proceedings against IFA over firework that hit photographer in Windsor Park 

McGovern eyes national berth 

Iordanescu's high hopes for O'Neill  

No Kop, but same old raucous atmosphere 

Romania were there for the taking: Chris Brunt 

Carroll message was big boost for Michael McGovern 

Blame will lie with players if Northern Ireland slip up now: Lafferty 

Northern Ireland have date with destiny 

Northern Ireland 0 - 0 Romania: Crunch Euro qualifier ends in stalemate


From Belfast Telegraph